Last night, a friend sent me a story making its way through the pages of the tabloids. A young opera singer had accused two of the most powerful men in the opera world of raping him eight years ago, when he was 23. The alleged victim, Samuel Schultz, a baritone, claimed he was inspired by the #MeToo movement to come forward now and expose his attackers to the press. He alleges that eight years ago, as a budding young performer, he attended a party with David Daniels (widely considered the most famous countertenor in the world) and his now husband Scott Walters, a conductor, where he consumed alcohol then woke up naked in bed with a bloody rectum. Schultz says he was drugged but didn’t go to law enforcement and even the next day Daniels casually asked if he had a good time, and not to worry about STDs because he was negative.
As someone who delights in the hypocrisies of America’s political and cultural elites, and loves any story that makes gays look bad, this particular story had a nuclear-grade bonus: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had presided over the wedding of the gay couple being accused of rape. But as I prepared to fire it off to one of my writers to cover, I paused. I realized that, as badly as I wanted to, I kind of just didn’t believe the accusations.
In this Mattress Girl world, it used to be the case all rapes on campus you’d ever heard of were most likely fake. The real ones never made it to left-wing journalists with an anti-male ax to grind, and certainly weren’t featured in the glossy pages of Rolling Stone. But, increasingly, it feels like every rape is fake. #MeToo has brought every bad actor and hypocrite out of the woodwork, and left me wondering if I even care any more when I hear stories like this. After hundreds of accusations tumbling out over the months, the takeaway from #MeToo now seems to be that there isn’t a rape epidemic in Hollywood, but that Hollywood is an oversexed industry where powerful men routinely expect sexual favors in exchange for career advancement, and that countless people happily went along with this unspoken agreement until it proved either no longer beneficial, or it became more advantageous to turn against it.
Take Asia Argento, whom we now know was up to her neck in it, on both sides of the user-and-used dynamic. Every time one of these high-profile allegations blows up because it’s either not true, or the woman was doing exactly the same thing or something just as bad, it lessens my trust in rape claims generally, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
Who honestly didn’t realize Hollywood — and any cutthroat, overpopulated, creative industry — worked like that? It’s probably a culture that stems back to Shakespeare. All you have to do his hang out with a bunch of drama club nerds to see how weirdly horny they are. If you know any actors, then you know how desperate and difficult their career paths are. You know that most actors will, literally, do anything, and sacrifice all principals, for fame and attention, especially as their youth starts to fade. Which is what most women did in Hollywood to get where they are: whatever it took.
It occurred to me recently, with all the homosexuals in Hollywood, to ask why a gay #MeToo movement never caught fire. I also exist in a saturated, nepotistic, powerful creative industry where waves of desperate, starry-eyed young bucks are constantly lapping ashore looking for a break. (Fortunately, the editor-at-large of this magazine is married now so the line of nubile young African men outside the office front door is thinning out). When I was in my early twenties, and that was me, I met many powerful and famous gay men in my industry and slept with basically all of them. Sure, I realized these were people who could greatly advance my career. But that’s not why I did it. I did it because I wanted to. I found them sexy. Their status added sexual appeal, of course, and I admired plenty of them. I never once asked for any professional favors, mostly because I thought it would be tacky and weird. But I can only imagine people less likable and principled than myself, whose careers aren’t going so well, and the golden lights they must see when an opportunity arises to get a little national attention, maybe in a last-ditch effort to save the sinking ship of their once optimistic career.
But the main reason there isn’t a gay #MeToo movement (and this is not to be confused with Hollywood’s persistent pedophilia epidemic, which is something entirely different and vastly more horrendous) is, simply, we’re men. Sex is more transactional for us. We are better satisfied by porn — which women generally don’t like –and hookers — which women generally don’t hire. So sex is a currency for us, just as it is for women, but we don’t give it special emotional significance like women do. And for gay men sex is even more frivolous. A blowjob is the gay man version of two dogs sniffing each other’s butts.
That’s why the women of #MeToo tend to be so angry. They are ashamed of themselves for moral and emotional compromises that still haunt them today, and this outpouring gives them license to cleanse themselves of their self-loathing. The men they fucked for movie roles, by comparison, barely remember the girls’ names.
I want to be perfectly clear that I’m not accusing Schultz of lying or of his career being stagnant or any of the above. I simply don’t know what happened, and a year ago, I never would have questioned it. Parts of his account I read made me very dubious, and other parts seemed genuine. I do know that if a man and his husband know how to acquire date rape drugs, and drugged and raped a random young man, it probably wasn’t an isolated incident, others will hopefully come forward, and, if true, the accused should be locked up and have their lives ruined.
The point is, I don’t ever want to question the victim of a sexual assault. And yet, here I am doing so. It’s beginning to look like #MeToo might be the best thing to happen to rapists since Rohypnol and no cover charge for girls. I almost have to make an effort to catch myself and remember that there are lots of real rape victims out there — they just don’t look or sound like Asia Argento and they don’t typically run to the press over the police. Perhaps the media needs a friendly reminder that most rape victims probably don’t have $200,000 educations and an L.A. Times writer in their speed dial.
Chadwick Moore is a journalist, political commentator, and editor-in-chief of DANGEROUS, currently working on his first book. He tweets at @Chadwick_Moore.